Stoke City 2:2 Leicester City
City took the lead twice at the Bet365 Stadium in Saturday’s early kick off, but were denied three points by a Peter Crouch header…
Claude Puel made one enforced change to his line-up, with Chilwell injured and Okazaki regaining his starting place.
There was a pre-match Remembrance Day parade featuring a ball used by soldiers during the Battle of the Somme.
The game kicked off, or at least the ref blew his whistle. In a strange opening few minutes Stoke sat very deep, while City passed the ball amongst themselves.
The first chance came in the 11th minute when Gray beat Zouma on the left and delivered a low cross which Vardy met at the near post, but Wimmer was on hand to block his effort.
Stoke then ventured upfield but Shaqiri pulled his shot well wide.
In the 20th minute Gray, faced with two defenders, chipped a nine iron over them to the far post, but it just eluded Okazaki, who picked up a knock from Butland.
There was another injury two minutes later when referee Bobby Madley pulled a calf muscle and was replaced by our old friend Jon Moss.
The game opened up after this and Stoke should have gone ahead in the 28th minute. The home side broke upfield and Choupo-Moting ran clear and side-stepped Maguire but sent his shot too close to Schmeichel who got down smartly to turn it away.
City then enjoyed their best spell of the game and took a 33rd minute lead. Following a series of corners, the final one bore fruit. Mahrez delivered from the right, Maguire rose to nod it back across goal and Iborra pounced to blast a shot that Butland got a glove to, but couldn’t keep out.
Three minutes later Mahrez burst down the left, but hesitated in delivering a cross to Vardy, screaming for the ball in the middle, and Zouma snuffed the threat out.
From the resulting corner City almost replicated their goal, this time Gray sent it over from the left, Maguire nodded down again , but Iborra’s shot was blocked.
City were on fire now, Gray beat Zouma down the left and his low cross was met with a header into the ground from Okazaki 6 yards, but Butland showed fine reactions to palm it over.
Moments later Gray delivered a cross from the right, but Iborra headed over, unmarked, from ten yards out.
This fantastic passage of play then ended with a Stoke goal. City’s defence were caught on the hop, and a fine ball from Choupo-Moting sent Shaqiri down the right channel to curl a precise shot round Schmeichel.
City pushed forward again, looking to regain the lead, and a cross from Okazaki was acrobatically vollied narrowly over his own bar by Diouf.
Stoke ended the half well, with Schmichel having to guide a 20 yarder from Shaqiri round the post, but City were left rueing those missed chances during a purple patch that could have put the game to bed.
Stoke had the first chance after the break, when Schmeichel did well to hold on to an Allen cross that deflected goalwards.
Mahrez then fired in a 30 yard shot that moved deceptively in the air, leaving Butland grateful to help it over the bar.
Mahrez then jinked through a crowded area before sending a low shot across goal that went just the wrong side of the far post.
Claude Puel made his first change on the hour bringing Iheanacho on for Okazaki, and City regained the lead within a minute.
Ndidi fed Mahrez down the right, and he accelerated away from the challenge of Pieters before cutting in towards goal and firing a snap shot home across Butland with the defence expecting a cross.
Iborra then limped out of the action to be replaced by King.
Stoke ramped up the pressure in search of an equaliser and Zouma fired a fierce shot straight at Schmeichel.
The home side levelled matters in the 73rd minute when substitute Crouch barged past Fuchs to meet a Shaqiri corner with a thumping header.
City should have regained the lead five minutes later when Iheanacho sent Vardy into the area. Vardy’s dummy sent Shawcross into the car park, but he then screwed his shot wide of the right hand post.
Stoke were on top for a spell and Puel brought Albrighton on for Gray with ten minutes remaining. But City still looked dangerous on the break – Iheanacho had the ball in the net in the 87th minute, but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
There was one heart-stopping moment in time-added-on when Zouma’s close range header from a corner was brilliantly saved by Schmeichel, but both teams had to be content with a point from a game that had started slowly, but then turned into a hugely entertaining encounter.
Claude Puel commented: “I am happy with the attitude of my players, because it was a very good game, with intensity, with passion, with fight and it was very interesting. We had a lot of chances today, it’s difficult to accept just one point, but we also saw Kasper save well at the end so then OK, we take a point. We can make the situation better, the first and second goal we can prevent this. I think it’s an encouraging game for us for the future.”
Stoke: Butland, Zouma, Shawcross, Wimmer, Diouf (Berahino 86), Fletcher, Allen, Pieters, Shaqiri, Sobhi Crouch 69), Choupo-Moting. Substitutes: Jesé, Afellay, Martins Indi, Adam, Grant.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Iborra (King 66), Ndidi, Gray (Albrighton 80), Okazaki (Iheanacho 58),Vardy.
Substitutes: Hamer, Dragovic, Amartey, Slimani.
Referee: R Madley (J Moss). Attendance: 29,602.
ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber
You can now subscribe to The FOX – The Leicester City fanzine for the 2017/18 season…
You can either print and post the above subscriptions form or pay online via Paypal below.
2017/18 Subs + cards – £20.90
2017/18 Subs – £16.95
Europe – £27.00
Rest of World – £33.00
Many thanks for your continued support.